Paul Laurence Dunbar

(1872-1906 / Ohio / United States)

The Murdered Lover - Poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar

Say a mass for my soul's repose, my brother,
Say a mass for my soul's repose, I need it,
Lovingly lived we, the sons of one mother,
Mine was the sin, but I pray you not heed it.

Dark were her eyes as the sloe and they called me,
Called me with voice independent of breath.
God! how my heart beat; her beauty appalled me,
Dazed me, and drew to the sea-brink of death.

Lithe was her form like a willow. She beckoned,
What could I do save to follow and follow,
Nothing of right or result could be reckoned;
Life without her was unworthy and hollow.

Ay, but I wronged thee, my brother, my brother;
Ah, but I loved her, thy beautiful wife.
Shade of our father, and soul of our mother,
Have I not paid for my love with my life?

Dark was the night when, revengeful, I met you,
Deep in the heart of a desolate land.
Warm was the life-blood which angrily wet you
Sharp was the knife that I felt from your hand.

Wept you, oh, wept you, alone by the river,
When my stark carcass you secretly sank.
Ha, now I see that you tremble and shiver;
'T was but my spirit that passed when you shrank!

Weep not, oh, weep not, 't is over, 't is over;
Stir the dark weeds with the turn of the tide;
Go, thou hast sent me forth, ever a rover,
Rest and the sweet realm of heaven denied.

Say a mass for my soul's repose, my brother,
Say a mass for my soul, I need it.
Sin of mine was it, and sin of no other,
Mine was it all, but I pray you not heed it.

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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 2, 2010

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